The Courage for Patience

Do you have the courage it takes to be patient? Have you ever thought of patience and courage as going hand in hand? I have always heard patience is a virtue. Then I came across this in a book I’m reading on the virtues. It describes the virtue of courage (which you may know better as fortitude) as the strength of will that enables us to conquer fear. What on earth does that have to do with patience you say? Please do not be impatient. Simply read on. 

What am I afraid of?

Patience is a sub-virtue of courage. It takes strength to be patient. If you ever get to the root of your struggle with being patient you’ll realize its firmly grounded in fear. Fear of running out of time or of not being in control. Fear that something is not working, or is not ever going to work. Fear that someone won’t ever change. The list goes on. We have to exercise the virtue of patience when we are struggling, because unfortunately much good can be lost through our fear.

A new perspective on patience.

For me, attaching courage to patience makes it a much more appealing virtue to practice. Patience can seem weak at times because you feel you are in a position of helplessness. However it helps to remember, patience is courage borne out over time. As St. Thomas Aquinas describes, “patience as enduring injuries in such a way as not to be unduly dejected by them and abandoning virtue’s good.” In other words, not getting overly worked up or discouraged but having the courage to trust God.

Keep your soul in your hand

St Francis De Salles has an awesome section in Intro to the Devout Life that really applies here.

Examine yourself often, at least night and morning, as to whether your soul is “in your hand;” or whether it has been wrested thence by any passionate or anxious emotion.

See whether your soul is fully under control, or where it has not in anywise escaped from beneath your hand, to plunge into some unruly love, hate, envy, lust, fear, vexation or joy.

And if it has so strayed, before all else seek it out, and quietly bring it back to the Presence of God, once more placing all your hopes and affections under the direction of His Holy Will.

Just as one who fears to lose some precious possession holds it tight in his hand, so, like King David, we ought to be able to say, “My soul is alway in my hand, and therefore I have not forgotten Thy Law.”

If any one strives to be delivered from his troubles out of love of God, he will strive patiently, gently, humbly and calmly, looking for deliverance rather to God’s Goodness and Providence than to his own industry or efforts; but if self-love is the prevailing object he will grow hot and eager in seeking relief, as though all depended more upon himself than upon God. I do not say that the person thinks so, but he acts eagerly as though he did think it. Then if he does not find what he wants at once, he becomes exceedingly impatient and troubled, which does not mend matters, but on the contrary makes them worse.

Courage-informed patience

I’ll close with this quote from the book. A courage- informed patience helps us to persevere in seeking our own perfection and that of the world. And it is through the exercise of patience that we grow in faith and virtue (James 1:2-4). In addition, it is through patience that we save our souls (Luke 21:19).

The book that sparked this blog is titled Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue by Tim Gray and Curtis Martin. It is available on FORMED.